The latest car that Fields Auto Group invited me to review is the Range Rover Evoque, and I have to admit, it took a few days for me to warm up to it.
With its steep angles and futuristic stance, this unique SUV could be mistaken for a concept model. And, as a coupe, it looks unlike anything on the road.
To know this car is to love it. After a few weeks, its British sensibilities have really grown on me.
Despite the Evoque's one-of-a-kind looks, it's intriguing that its innards match the off-road capabilities of the entire Land Rover line. No, I didn't have the chance to scale the mountains of Afghanistan, but I did put it to the test in a Milwaukee winter, where it performed better than any vehicle I've ever driven.
The charm of this vehicle goes beyond its incredible off-road pedigree. It's lower to the ground than, say, my 2011 BMW X3, so it drives stoutly, more like a car than an SUV.
And it's fast.
Though we're talking about a 240 HP four-cylinder engine that produces 250 lb-ft of torque, it's turbo-charged and extremely responsive. Maybe even a little too responsive – if you press too hard on the gas, even inadvertently, you'll be thrown back in your seat. Its advertised 0-60 time is 7.1 seconds, but it feels much faster.
My one minor complaint about driving the Evoque is that it seems to default to a lower gear than necessary, so it lugs a little in normal driving. You can deal with that, however, by throwing it into sport mode and using the paddle shifters. In normal driving after almost 1,000 miles, I averaged 20.6 miles per gallon, which is on the lower side of its estimates of 20 and 28 MPG (23 combined). Also, the Evoque offers special driving modes for snow, desert, mountain and slick roads. In snow mode, it makes quick work of whatever Mother Nature throws at it.
The thrill of the Evoque goes beyond performance. I do love the interior of this car. Even though the sharply slanted roof line gives the appearance of a tiny cabin, it's bigger than it looks. The only sightline that's a problem is the slit of a back windshield.
It's a struggle to strap a kid into the car seat on any two-door car, but the cockpit is beautifully laid out. Here, you see the shared platform between Jaguar and Range Rover, and ergonomics get full attention. The round gear selector that rises from the center console, the touch-screen display and other controls are very similar to that of the Jaguar XF. This specific Evoque was decked-out with voice navigation – that is extremely accurate – and a whole host of surround cameras and lane departure warning tools. The panoramic moon roof is gorgeous. The fit and finish are elegant yet modern. It takes a special kind of car to make the BMW X3 feel bland by comparison, and the Evoque does just that.
The little touches matter, too. From the power tailgate to the side mirrors that fold-in when parked and project a white silhouette of the car on the pavement below, nothing about the Evoque seems run-of-the-mill. Even the front windshield has tiny heat coils woven throughout, so when it's time to defrost, it's melting the ice from within. With the $7,900 Dynamic Premium package, you get 19-inch wheels, gorgeous stitched leather, blind spot monitoring and more. This model added the Adaptive Dynamics Package, the Climate Comfort Package, a special "Santorini Black" paint job and more.
Though this unit was fully loaded with features (the sticker on this car was $56,995), it starts at $44,134. That means it competes with cars like my X3 – however, in terms of styling, it's probably a more logical competitor to the X6. The four-door version starts $1,000 less, and I would recommend that version over the coupe. I'd imagine those extra two doors will come in handy more often than not.
And, while I do like my X3, the Evoque is much more fun to drive, and the interior is an ergonomic step up from my BMW. It doesn't have that classic, conservative style, which means you'll either love or hate its aesthetics.
For me, it's love. The car looks great from the front and the back, while the coupe's lines from the side are, well, a little weird. I'd imagine the four-door version is a bit less extreme, but make no mistake, you will turn heads in this car. You simply don't see it on the road in Milwaukee.
The Evoque is just a little offbeat, but in terms of driveability, it's extremely approachable – even if you'll rarely tap into its off-road prowess. But it's great to know it's there.
The question is whether you can get on-board with its concept-car styling. After just a few weeks, I know I certainly can.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published Dec. 5, 2013
2013 has been a good year to OnMilwaukee.com publisher and co-founder Andy Tarnoff. His family is healthy, his friends are (mostly) awesome, and business is great. And he did a lot of consuming. Here's what he enjoyed the most.
Published Dec. 2, 2013
I've never made a big secret about the fact that I'm not crazy about Christmas. As a Jewish person, I don't celebrate it, and growing up, it mostly served to remind me that I was different than my friends. Believe it or not, though, there are a few things I like about Christmas. As Hanukkah - the earliest one in a long, long time - wraps up, here are eight of my favorite:
Published Nov. 30, 2013
Spacehog was in a very different place last time it played in Milwaukee. It was July 1, 2001, at the Summerfest rock stage, and Spacehog was promoting its new album "The Hogyssey." That turned out to be the last major tour for the band from Leeds, although Spacehog began reuniting a few years ago and finally launched its fourth album, a crowd-sourced disc "As It Is On Earth," this spring. Now, they're back on the road, playing small clubs. Older, wiser but still prone to bouts of rock, we talked to drummer Jonny Cragg in advance of Spacehog's Dec. 13 show at Sturtevant's Route 20.
Published Nov. 27, 2013
National men's blog Gear Patrol listed Milwaukee's Sanford as one of its top 25 restaurants in the country this week. The award-winning restaurant is Wisconsin's only inclusion in its list.
Published Nov. 26, 2013
People ask me all the time what is the most important thing I've learned in 15 years of self-employment. That's an easy one: be agile. Trust your gut. Keep meetings short. Act on good ideas, don't try the bad ideas. Make good decisions even if they upset people occasionally.
Published Nov. 25, 2013
I've been playing Grand Theft Auto 5 on my aging PS3 this fall, and I love it. It's easily the best video game I've ever played. And it's probably my last. I grew up surrounded by video games, and at certain points in my life, I played a lot of them. But now I just have one game, GTA5. I don't anticipate playing another one ever again.
Published Nov. 22, 2013
Chicago native Mike Lowe got into TV news because someone told him he had a voice for broadcasting when he read the sports scores over his high school PA. He found himself as a political reporter because he just happened to be the one covering the political turmoil in Madison in 2011. Now, Lowe has his own branded segment on Fox 6, and he's being recognized for his work - the 34-year-old reporter just won six Emmys. But he's also modest and down to earth.
Published Nov. 14, 2013
If you have lazy people in your life, consider these gifts this holiday season. They'll thank you, assuming they get around to it.
Published Nov. 11, 2013
Until last week, I'd visited Orlando twice. Once, when I was about 5, and once on my way back from spring break when I was 21. Neither really prepared me for the Florida family vacation we took with my wife and 5-year-old daughter, but it turned out to be as perfect - maybe more so - than I could imagine.
Published Nov. 5, 2013
Since it's only been five months, you may not have noticed that Tami Hughes is no longer an anchor and reporter on your local airwaves. That's OK, she gets that all the time. In fact, the former FOX6 personality has not only left television, she's taken a completely new career path. The Ohio native is now working for Will Allen's Growing Power, the urban farm on 55th and Silver Spring. It's the kind of job that Hughes didn't expect to have but at the same time, knew was totally right for her.